SLAYER Frontman On Writing Songs About 'Humanity's Demons And Humanity's Devils'

Paul Gargano of Maximum Ink recently conducted an interview with SLAYER frontman Tom Araya. An excerpt from the chat follows:

Maximum Ink: Is it fair to say that SLAYER have become a lot more political in recent years?

Tom Araya: It comes across that way, but it's not. There are more social commentaries, and more of, "This is what I see, so I'm going to write it." But we really don't like to state our views. We just like to write what we see and see what your opinion is, and what you think of what we're seeing. Maybe you're seeing something different…

Maximum Ink: But it's not unfair to say that your inspirations have changed a lot over the years?

Tom Araya: Yeah, you've got different things that inspire you. It's your surroundings, and it's maturity. You grow up and you start seeing things differently, and you start writing differently. It doesn't mean your going to change the imagery and the ideas behind SLAYER, you're just going to change the pictures you're painting. Where before it was demons and devils, now you're writing songs about humanity's demons and humanity's devils.

Maximum Ink: It's a testament to SLAYER that you've been able to make that progression, because a lot of bands that used to be your peers haven't been able to do that.

Tom Araya: It's just maturity. It's just coming to grips and understanding the subject matter. When we first got together, Dave, Jeff and Kerry were still in high school! We were going to call ourselves SLAYER and be everything that's not Hollywood: We're not going be pretty boys, we're going to be ugly boys, and we're not going to write about parties, we're going to write about Satan. You know what I mean? [Laughing] We were young, Kerry liked the whole satanic thing, VENOM was a huge influence, and we started working on our own songs and developed it. By the time we did "Show No Mercy", we had all that — I was 22, they were 19, and we were young kids.

Maximum Ink: So the evolution started then, and hasn't stopped.

Tom Araya: Yeah. You're young, but as you grow up you have to evolve and you have to make a change. That's what we did. We grew, and "Reign in Blood" was the turning point. We had just got through doing "Hell Awaits", which was a very dark, hell and Satan album, then the subject matter changed on "Reign in Blood". It was less Satan and more on a social level… But every now and then you make sure you mention "Satan!" [Laughing]

Maximum Ink: Has being a father tempered you at all?

Tom Araya: No. The only thing I do differently is watch my language [laughing], and that's just around my kids and my family. That's something that I've done subconsciously, but that's it… Me and my wife are big scary movie fans, like the remakes of "Amityville Horror" and "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", and we let our sons watch those movies with us. They don't have to watch it with us, but they're allowed to… They're seven and 10, and every now and then one will ask, "Is this real?" We talk to them and make it clear that it's just a movie, and they understand. Then they watch the specials about how the effects and scenes were done, and they get a better idea that it's just movie magic. It's the same with music, we let them listen to whatever they want to.

Maximum Ink: Is it a metal house?

Tom Araya: It's a variety house. They listen to metal, they listen to country, they listen to kid-pop, they just enjoy music, which I'm just glad they do. They sing to each other, they perform to each other, and they mimic the videos they see.

Read the entire interview at www.maximumink.com.

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